Dr. Sara Spike is a cultural historian of rural communities and coastal environments in Atlantic Canada.
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Meaningful, complex cultural narratives about rural life can help to shift our social and political imaginary of rural places. All of my work seeks to re-imagine the possibilities of rural life: I tell new kinds of stories about the past to fuel vibrant rural futures. Increasingly my focus has been coastal communities and environments, like the one where I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.
I am currently a university instructor and I work as a historical consultant to community and heritage groups, museums, and archives in Nova Scotia.
My academic research uses a range of unconventional perspectives to explore the historical worlds of rural Canadians, illuminating and recuperating overlooked aspects of rural culture and knowledge.
I received my PhD from the Department of History at Carleton University in the fall of 2016. My award-winning doctoral dissertation, which is currently under review for publication by a university press, is a cultural history of vision and modernity in rural Nova Scotia, 1880–1910.
In 2018-2020 I was a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at the University of New Brunswick. My ongoing research project from that position is titled “Cultural Histories of Fog in Atlantic Canada.” A position as Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University in 2021 allowed me to organize a workshop on “Canadian Coastal Histories,” which brought together 20 scholars for a fruitful online conversation over two days. In 2022, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Marine Affairs Program at Dalhousie University, working with the BEcoME project to study community engagement with seafloor and coastal environments in Nova Scotia.
I have published peer-reviewed articles and public scholarship spanning fields including Canadian history, visual culture studies, rural history, sensory history, disability studies, environmental history, coastal history, the history of education, the history of science, and more.